Hal Luscombe had a field day as Wales U 21 ran riot at the Brewery Field,
Bridgend, this afternoon, piling up 10 tries on their way to a commanding
second victory of the campaign.
The South African-born Newport centre completed his try hat-trick two
minutes from the end as Wales bounced back from their defeat by France to
add the Italian scalp to that of the Irish.
Cardiff fly half Nicky Robinson got the scoreboard moving with a penalty
goal in the third minute before Wales started doing serious damage with the
ball in hand.
Captain Matthew Brayley, the Swansea centre, was the creator for the first,
scored by Llanelli flanker Gareth Williams, before Luscombe started getting in
on the act.
He started and finished a move that swept half the length of the pitch and by
the 20th minute Wales got their third try when Ebbw Vale flanker Rhys Williams
forced his way over the line from a line-out.
The Italian defence held firm for another 14 minutes - but then presented
Wales with a gift-wrapped score.
Full back Andrea Masi dealt with a long kick downfield well enough and even
made valuable ground running the ball back at Wales.
But when he attempted an ambitious long pass, he only succeeded in finding
UWIC No 8 Rhys Jones who galloped 55 metres for try No 4.
The Italian defence was opened up again just before the break, a long pass
from Robinson creating a three-man overlap, Luscombe ignoring the advantage to
go over for his second and Wales' fifth.
Rhys Jones and Rhys Williams both got second tries from close range soon
after the break before Gareth Swales made the running for Neath prop Adam
Jones to score and then Aled Gravelle (Llanelli), with his first touch as a
back row replacement, got the ninth.
Italy, who had Michael Rizzo and Andrea Frassenello yellow carded in the second
half, still managed to notch up their first try of the tournament, the honour
going to flanker Claudio Mannato.
Luscombe still had time for his hat-trick - but Italy had the last word
with Gonzalo Canale crossing for their second try in the dying seconds.
Wales: Tries - H Luscombe 3, R Williams 2, R Jones 2, G Williams, A Jones,
A Gravelle; Cons - N Robinson 6; Pen - N Robinson
Italy: Tries - C Mannato, G Canale; Con - V Zullo
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.
The WRU officially unveiled the new pitch today in time for Wales to take on Australia in the first of the Dove Men Series autumn international matches this Saturday. Head Groundsman Lee Evans and colleague Craig Campbell reflect on the 15-week project and look ahead to a pitch perfect future at Millennium Stadium.